Warnings: Some language. Some Rogue/Pyro undertones.

No had one spoken yet on the flight back to the school. Cyclops had put on his red tinged sunglasses, and was flying the jet while Logan and Bobby watched over John. Rogue was sitting on the bench as far from anyone as she could get, flipping the lid of John's lighter open and closed.

She didn't know why she was doing it, she just couldn't stop. It comforted her somehow, and made it easier to not think about how one of her best friends was dying because of her.

John was one of her best friends. And wasn't this just the perfect time to realize it. She had doubted him when he had left, decided he had never really cared about any of them at all. She had thought he had only left because he was bored and didn't like any of them anyway.

Now she knew why he had really gone.

It was all there, inside of her mind.

He had left not because he didn't care about them, but because he was convinced none of them cared about him. He had left because there was nothing he hated more than doing nothing, and he was sick of being ashamed for something he hadn't asked for.

He was with Magneto because he truly believed, that in the end, Magneto's way was the only one that would bring about peace in the end. After all, almost every revolution in history was only achieved by startling and disturbing amounts of violence.

Maybe he was right, Rogue decided. Maybe he was right to not want to hide who he was. She didn't know. She didn't know anything at the moment, there were too many voices inside of her whispering their own brand of truth. It wasn't just John, Logan was there, Magneto was there, even small fragments of Bobby. They were driving her insane, but she latched onto John in the madness. He was the one voice that actually gave her comfort.


Rogue looked up, startled. "What?" she snapped.

Bobby looked slightly taken aback, but didn't back down. "How are you holding up?"

Rogue leaned back against the wall, brought one foot up to rest on the bench, and smiled one of John's smiles. "How do you think?"

Bobby had never seen Rogue after she had touched Logan, and he wasn't used to seeing her act so unlike herself. After Logan had healed her at the Statue of Liberty, she had taken to smoking his cigars and growling at anyone who tried to come near either of them. It didn't last long before the voices faded deeper into the background, but it was unsettling all the same.

"I'm sure John will be fine," Bobby said. "You know him, he always gets himself out of trouble."

"He will be fine," Rogue nodded, switching the lighter on and staring at the flame.

"Can you still control it . . .?" Bobby asked hesitantly.

Rogue shook her head. "No, it's much too hot now. But it's so beautiful."

Rogue looked mesmerized by the flame, and it scared him. "Rogue, you're still in there, aren't you?" he whispered.

"Of course," she snapped. "What kind of question is that?"

"You're just not acting like yourself," he told her.

"An unfortunate side effect of stealing someone's soul," she sneered.

"I'm sorry," Bobby said quickly. "I'm just worried about you."

"Worry about John," she said coolly. "He needs you right now and you're wasting time worrying about me."

"He needs you too," Bobby said quietly.

"I'm the last thing he needs. I nearly killed him, Bobby. And there's still a chance I might have."

"Rogue, that isn't true--"

"Just go away," she said vaguely. She went back to playing with John's lighter, and studiously looking anywhere other than where Logan kneeled beside her friend's still form.

Bobby sighed and went back to John's side. He couldn't talk to her right now. Not when she was looking at him with John's eyes, and fiddling with that lighter like it was her own.

"How is he?" Bobby asked Logan as he came to sit beside him.

"How should I know?" he asked. "My body heals itself. I don't have much experience with this. If Jean were here--"

Logan trailed off and Bobby nodded in silent agreement. They both knew things would be much different if Jean were still here.

Bobby reached out and grabbed John's hand. He didn't know how things had become so scrambled. Jean was dead, John had joined the enemy--which was second to the fact that John was laying here dying and they didn't know what do to stop it.

Bobby's gaze flickered over to the cockpit, and he looked out the window. He could see the school in the distance, they were almost home.

* * * *

Rogue paced along the smooth blue hallway. The lighter was still grasped in her hand, but the inexplicable compulsion to flick it open and closed had lessoned. Rogue was back in full control, but John was still wrapped around every part of soul.

Storm and Professor Xavier were in the room at the end of the hall with John. They had a mutant doctor with them, a friend of the Professor's, Dr. Hank McCoy. She wished she knew what was taking so long.

She shouldn't be worrying like this. John would be fine. That day at Bobby's house she had held onto him nearly as long and he had been fine. A little reserved, sure, but fine. It hadn't been that much longer this time, had it? Rogue closed her eyes, and tried to think how long she had held on.

She should have let go. It was only the part of John that already resided within her that wouldn't let her. She had known it wouldn't do any good. Because whatever she did, John never would have let go of her. Struggling would have sent them both to their deaths.

It was all very logical. Logic cleared her of all fault. But every time she closed her eyes she saw John's voiceless scream and logic couldn't take away that hurt. Nothing could. Because she had caused his pain--unwillingly or not, it had been her touch that had done it.

For a minute she wanted nothing more than to have John wake up and tell her she was being stupid. To grin at her in that arrogant way he had and tell her that he was just being his usual gallant self and that she wasn't to worry. But the door that kept him from her view stayed closed.

She turned around and started pacing in the other direction, her hand absent-mindedly caressing the lighter in her hand.

She knew she was being ridiculous, John was dying; she couldn't expect absolution from him. And Bobby wasn't here to offer it in his place. He had offered to stay, of course, but she had told him to get lost without meaning to. That had been definitely been John. She had even laughed his laugh at Bobby's stricken look.

She hadn't meant to. It wasn't even something John would have done on his own, but he had help. Magneto and Logan had both risen to the front of her mind for awhile as well, and she had lost almost everything of herself. She wished Bobby was here now, wished she hadn't told him to go away, wished he hadn't listened.

She wished John had never left most of all.

None of this would have happened if he had just stayed with them, trusted in them, and not wandered off into the snow by himself. But she knew better than anyone besides John himself that he couldn't have stayed. Just like he never could have lowered himself to the ground even as there was a squad of police aiming guns at him.

The door behind her slid open, and Rogue spun around. Storm and Professor Xavier exited the room, looking solemn. She braced herself. "How is he?"

Storm met her eyes compassionately. "He's in a coma, Rogue. But Dr. McCoy is confident that he will wake up."

Rogue froze. A coma. She had put the first boy she had ever kissed in a coma too. For three weeks. She was poison to people she cared about. "Can I see him?" she asked. It was barely a whisper, but Xavier would have known what she had asked even if she had not spoken the question out loud.

"I'm sure John would appreciate it," he said kindly.

Rogue nodded and walked towards the room. Of course he would. What coma patient didn't want the company of the one that had put them there?

Dr. Hank McCoy, or the Beast, as he was called due to his animal like appearance, was in the corner, studiously going over some scans he had taken of John. He could look fearsome, with his shaggy feral appearance, but he was one of the gentlest souls Rogue had ever known. She smiled faintly in greeting to him, and then took a cautious step towards John.

He was pale, and barely seemed to be breathing. A lock of his hair had fallen in his eyes, and she wished more than anything that she could simply brush it out of the way. But even now that she was wearing gloves again she didn't dare to get closer.

"How is he?" she asked quietly.

Beast turned and gazed at her kindly. "He is young and strong, I'm sure--"

"You're being evasive," Rogue snapped, before catching herself and shaking her head. This impatience wasn't hers. "I'm sorry," she said quickly.

He just smiled gently. "It's not your fault." He stared at her for a moment, looking at her in a way that made her believe he was measuring her worth. "None of this is."

"No," she agreed, looking down at John, and wondering if the fact that he looked so peaceful should be reassuring or worrying. "It isn't. That doesn't make it any easier to deal with."

"No, I don't imagine it would," he agreed. "But all great deeds are wrought at great risks."

Rogue nodded. "Do you mind if I stay here?" she asked quietly.

"Not at all," he told her softly. "Stay as long as you need to."

Rogue thought need was a strange way to put it. Appropriate, but strange.

* * * *

"Rogue, Rogue, wake up."

Rogue jumped up, and found herself looking into the bluest eyes she'd ever encountered. "Bobby," she said.

"Hey," he offered, giving her a weak smile. "Were you here all night?"

Rogue nodded. "It's the least I can do."

"How is he?"

"Beast says he thinks he'll be fine. But I don't think I'll stop worrying until he wakes up." Rogue looked over at John. He looked less pale today, but he was still eerily motionless.

Bobby pulled one of the metal chairs from the corner and placed it beside her. He sat down and grasped her gloved hand. "I'll stay with you," he told her.

She smiled at him slightly, before turning back to John. She was glad Bobby was with her, but slightly disheartened by the fact that he would never really understand what she was going through. No one ever could.

"I'm almost as scared for him to wake up as I am that he might not," Rogue whispered. "This will all just start again. He'll leave, and we'll be going against each other again."

"John wasn't against you yesterday," Bobby told her quietly. "He was fighting for something else, but when you were in real danger, he risked everything to save you. That means something, Rogue."

"I know. I would have done the same thing for him. And so would you. But that just makes it all so much harder. We'll never hate each other, Bobby, at least I don't think we will. But we're going to be fighting each other for the rest of our lives. How are we supposed to deal with that?"

Bobby squeezed her hand. "The Professor found a way. We will too."

"Do you guys *have* to be so overly dramatic every minute of your lives?"

Rogue and Bobby pulled apart at the unexpected voice, and both jumped up to look at their friend. John's eyes were still closed, but he was wincing and had a hand held to his forehead. "I feel like I'm on Days of Our Lives," he complained.

"John!" Rogue cried, grinning ear to ear. She just barely kept herself from pulling him into a hug.

He opened one eye cautiously and looked over at her. "Hey. You okay?"

"Fine, thanks to you," she said softly.

"No sweat," he said. "Just fulfilling the requisite duties as knight in shining armor, seeing how lover-boy over there got taken out by a girl."

Bobby mock glared at him. "If you didn't look so awful right now, I'd hit you."

"No you wouldn't," John said assuredly. "You're the nice one." John pushed himself up, and looked around in some confusion. "What am I doing here?" he asked.

"You were pretty bad off," Rogue told him. "We thought it was best you came here."

John raised an eyebrow. "And Magneto was okay with that?"

Bobby cast an appraising glance at Rogue. "He didn't have a choice. Rogue didn't give him one."

John frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Rogue looked at him defiantly. "I had your powers for awhile," she reminded him.

Realization hit then, and John broke out in a grin. "You threatened Magneto with my powers? You've got guts."

"Actually," she said, rolling her eyes good-naturedly. "I had yours. You're a bad influence."

Bobby smiled slightly at that. "Rogue took on a few of your traits for a bit. We were all properly terrified."

John glanced at her appraisingly. "Has it worn off?" he asked.

Rogue nodded. "Mostly. Though I still snap at people for no reason. Which is definitely you and not me."

John grinned. "Oh of course. Sweet little Marie would never snap at anyone unless I was in her head telling her to."

John ignored Rogue's outraged look, and looked around the room. He saw his coat on a metal table, and carefully slid down off the bed. Bobby and Rogue rushed him at once, though he noticed Rogue backed up like she'd been burned before she ever reached him.

"What do you think you're doing?" Bobby demanded.

John suddenly looked nervous, he had almost thought for a moment that he still had every right to be here. "I'm not a prisoner, am I?" he asked warily.

"Well, no," Bobby said. "But, John--"

Relieved, John didn't listen to the rest of Bobby's words. He pushed off from the table and staggered towards his coat. He struggled for a moment before getting it on.

"At least wait until Dr. McCoy can come check on you," Rogue pleaded. "John, please."

"I'm fine," he said, even as he winced. "I've been through this whole routine before, remember?" John didn't notice Rogue's pained look at his comment as he padded down his pockets, looking for something that wasn't there.

"I guess you two should probably escort me out?" he said absent mindedly. "Half the school probably wants me dead."

"No one wants you dead, John," Bobby said exasperated. "A lot of us were disappointed."

John raised his eyebrow at the obvious understatement.

"Okay, a LOT disappointed," Bobby corrected. "But you haven't done anything yet we couldn't forgive. You don't have to leave, you know."

John looked away. He had known one of them would offer. He had been placing bets in his mind on which it would be. Funny, his money had been on Rogue.

He looked over at her, and then realized why it hadn't been. He could tell by the look in her eyes she already knew he wouldn't stay.

"Bobby," he started, frustrated and regretful at the same time. "I have to go back. Just as much as you have to stay here, I have to go back."

"But why?" he demanded. "How can you possibly believe what you're doing is right?"

"Bobby," Rogue broke in. "Stop. You don't know his reasons. You don't understand." She met his eyes sadly. "You couldn't."

"You do?" he asked incredulously.

Rogue nodded. "I don't agree with him, but he isn't wrong."

Bobby shook his head. "That doesn't even make any sense. I can't believe you're even saying this. We're his friends, we're supposed to help get him out of trouble like this."

"He," John said, drawing out the word. "Is right here."

Rogue turned to face him sadly. "We'll walk you out."

Bobby looked scared, and John thought that was strange--because Bobby hardly ever got scared. "No," he said. "You can show him out."

Bobby left the room slowly, reluctantly, but John didn't call him back. Anything he said would only make everything between them that much worse.

Rogue didn't ask him to stop either. Even though she hated being left to face saying goodbye to John on her own. At least she was getting a chance to say goodbye this time.

"Come on," she said, turning to lead him out.

She jerked away when she felt him grab her arm to stop her. He looked surprised at her reaction, and then his eyes narrowed as he realized why she had pulled away. "So I was pretty bad off when you brought me here, huh?" he asked casually.

Rogue pulled her arms around herself and wouldn't meet his eyes. "You've looked better," she said.

"Well, whatever happened to me," he said, stepping closer than was comfortable for Rogue at the moment. "It was worth it."

"Why did you do it?" she demanded.

John was slightly taken aback, because when she had spoken she had sounded just like him. "I don't know. I just did. No one was supposed to get hurt, Rogue, that wasn't why we were there."

"You were going to burn that place down," Rogue said. "John, people would have been hurt."

"Maybe not," he said. "They would have time to evacuate. We weren't setting off a bomb, where they wouldn't have stood a chance, but, Rogue, they would deserve whatever they get. They want to fucking dissect us!"

Rogue went quiet, because part of her, and not just the part that held pieces of John, agreed with him. "And you're fighting us to protect them," he added quietly.

"We're fighting for more than that, John," Rogue said. "And you know it."

"You'll never get peace without violence."

Rogue wasn't sure he was wrong. But she couldn't let herself believe he was right. She didn't want to argue anymore. "Thank you, John. For helping me."

"You don't have to do that," he said, grabbing her hand, and holding it tighter when she tried to pull away. "I was just being selfish."

Rogue grinned slightly. "How was almost dying for me selfish?"

"I didn't want to live in a world without you," he said dramatically.

Rogue rolled her eyes. "And here I thought we were being serious."

"Don't get mad. I'm just practicing to be a romance novelist."

Rogue snorted and led the way into the hall. "Uh huh. I've got a big picture of THAT."

Laughing, John followed her out. "Anything's possible, Rogue," he said.

She turned to look at him. "You think it's possible one day we'll be able to stop fighting?"

"You have to start first, Rogue," he said without reproach. "And I'm not talking about against Magneto. But the real threat."

"He is a real threat," Rogue said in exasperation. "I understand why you have to leave, John, but don't trust him. He'd sacrifice you if he thought it would benefit his twisted view of the big picture."

This time it was John who didn't have a response, because he knew it was true. Magneto had almost done it to Rogue--and that was the only thing that kept John from worshipping him like the others in the Brotherhood seemed too.

They walked the rest of the way in silence, and when they reached the door Rogue wasn't sure she would be able to say goodbye. Maybe Bobby was right. Maybe she was a bad friend for not convincing him he should stay. Even if it would make him miserable.

But it wasn't up to her. John had seemed to sense her thoughts and had already opened the door. He stood in the doorway, framed by the sunlight, looking every bit like the savior he had been for her. Appearances could deceive, though, and she knew the next time they met he could just as easily be an enemy as a friend.

"Goodbye, John," she whispered.

He reached out and ran his fingers down the platinum streak in her hair, smiling only when she didn't flinch. "Goodbye, but not forever, Marie."

He turned and walked away then. Rogue closed the door and leaned back against it. She had wanted a chance to say goodbye since she had realized where John had gone, but she wasn't anywhere near satisfied now that she had it.

She reached into her pocket and pulled out Pyro's shark lighter.

"He forgot that?"

She looked up, startled. Logan was leaning against the wall a few feet away, nodding at the lighter in her hands. She looked down at it.

"John would never forget about this," she said.

Logan frowned. "He gave it to you?"

"No," she said softly. "He didn't ask for it back."

* * * *

John turned and faced the school, and as he stood back and watched the gates close slowly shut, he heard the Professor's voice in his mind.

//You can always come back//

He almost wished he could.

|The End|